JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says the recently-held UPND general conference was not a genuine gathering, but a “WhatsApp election” because it lacked proper procedural functions for the outcome to be respected.

And Lubinda says UPND president Hakainde Hichilema should be the last person to talk about tribalism.

In an interview, Lubinda said that for any intra-party election to be considered valid, people needed to know and understand the electoral college.

“Those elections are extremely WhatsApp elections! You don’t know who the electoral college was; you don’t know how the roll call was conducted; you don’t know who was recording. For any election to be considered valid, first of all, you have to know the electoral college. That electoral college must be allowed to vote in an environment where there is no room for manipulation. If the ECZ has not developed a system and infrastructure to conduct electoral votes, how can a political party manage to do it, and call the elections genuine? That is the reason why I referred to them as a WhatsApp conference, WhatsApp election. If you asked the people who elected Edgar Lungu in 2015, we can show you a list of delegates, you ask them if they can also show you a list of delegates to their WhatsApp conference? So, I just hope and pray that they are sincere in trying to make their party have a national identity, it is good for democracy and it is good for the country,” Lubinda said.

“Whether or not Hakainde becomes President of the Republic of Zambia, which I very much doubt, still, for the purpose of building democracy in the country, they ought to make sure that their party is of a national character, it is of the interest of the country that they develop a national character. Even just as an opposition political party, as a matter of fact that is a requirement of the law, no political party should be run based on regionalism; a political party must have national identity. So, it is my prayer that they do what is within their means to become a national party. These results of this WhatsApp conference must not be used to insult others, it must just give them courage to undertake measures that will ensure that they develop a national character.”

And commenting on Hichilema’s remarks that if elected, he would appoint a Cabinet that would comprise of people from all provinces, Lubinda said the UPND leader should be the last person to talk about tribalism.

“Hakainde’s whole presidency is a product of tribalism, he has struggled all his life to try and cleanse that from himself and he has lamentably failed! After the elections of 2016, of the 58 members who were elected in Parliament, 16 were from Southern Province, the rest were from outside Southern Province. Of the three leaders in Parliament, the whip, the deputy whip and the leader of opposition who were all appointed by Hakainde came from the minority. They came from one region; Jack Mwiimbu from Monze, the Leader of Opposition and he also had his friend in Mazabuka (Gary Nkombo) as a whip. It had to take me to raise the issue in Parliament, I said, ‘how can you be so regional?’ That is when they realised that their tribalism was being seen by all, that is when they changed and appointed Musokotwane,” Lubinda said.

“Bad habits die hard! The presidency of UPND went to Hakainde by people chanting, ‘Chibesu, Chibesu,’ meaning: ‘it is ours!’ That is tribalism! The one who ascends to office mischievously cannot say he is blind to tribalism. To prove that bad habits die hard, even the leadership in Parliament after the 2016 election was an illustration of how tribal he is. Records in Parliament will show that on several occasions, I chastised them for doing that. Only after, that is when they decided to replace one from Southern Province in the name of Gary Nkombo with (Dr Situmbeko) Musokotwane. So, now, how can a person who has such a history point a figure at another person and call them tribal? It is always wise to remove a log from your eyes before you attempt to remove a speck from another person’s eye.”

Lubinda, who is also Kabwata PF member of parliament, insisted that President Edgar Lungu had shown that he was not tribal because he had nominated two members of parliament from Southern Province and appointed them as Cabinet Ministers.

“President Edgar Lungu, unlike Hakainde, even when he has the power to appoint people, he has endeavoured to appoint people from all regions of the country. When he was nominating members of parliament, he realised that he didn’t have an MP in Southern Province and he nominated one from there to become a member of parliament and even made him a Minister. Recently, he nominated a second one from Southern Province and made him a member of parliament and Minister. Where is the tribalism in the PF? Our meetings are not conducted in Nsenga, Chewa, Bemba or Lozi, our meetings are conducted in English. As for others, I don’t know what language they use at their meetings. So, it is not right for Hakainde to call President Lungu or the PF as being tribal,” argued Lubinda.